MANY of us, Filipinos, who have lost their youthful infatuation for England—in fact, for the whole UK—because current events have shown it to be as crime-ridden, foolish and unprincipled as the United States, are no longer moved by these lines of the Bard:
“This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea.”
And we no longer smile, as if we were English ourselves, on reading or hearing these lines by George Mikes: “On the Continent people have good food; in England people have good table manners.”
Many of us, who in their youth were fond of or greatly admired England or Britain, have lost our innocent pride in sometimes being called “Anglophiles.” This is because England has become too unromantically divorced from the images of Camelot and even those of quiet English town squares, like that of Birstall, in northern England, where knifings and shootings are not supposed to happen. After all, isn’t England’s other name Civility?
But news of muggings and shootings and other unpleasant events that are commonplace in Metro Manila and American cities have also been happening in England.
The shooting and stabbing that happened in Birstall town, northern London, last Thursday afternoon snuffed out the life of one of the UK’s youngest and most promising women politicians, Member of Parliament Jo Cox.
The pretty 41-year-old happily married housewife and mother of two was a former humanitarian aid worker for the poor. She only became an MP last year to represent this very town in the House of Commons.
Her murder by a rightwing nut, who hated her because she was an active and effective campaigner against Brexit (Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union), was a vile deed.
But her shocking assassination—she was shot and stabbed right at the town center, as people shopped among the market stalls nearby—made the UK people unite in mourning, and feel, speak and grieve like the noble England portrayed by Shakespeare’s pen.
They stopped the fierce campaigning between the Pro- and Anti-Brexit factions. It made the ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party mourn as one, and offer praise to MP Jo Cox who belonged to the Labour Party.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, of course, grieved over the loss of his party’s most important young MP.
But the sincere and tearful mourning of the Conservative Party’s Prime Minister David Cameron was most impressive too. He praised Ms. Cox as a special, talented young colleague in Parliament.
“Today our nation is rightly shocked,” Mr. Cameron said. “It is a moment to stand back and think about some of the things that are so important about our country.”
He asked his countrymen to “value and see as precious the democracy we have on these islands.” Britain’s peace, stability and economic well-being were “all underpinned by tolerance,” which is what Ms. Cox killer did not have.
“Where we see hatred, where we find division, where we see intolerance we must drive it out of our politics and out of our public life and out of our communities,” Mr. Cameron said.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, also delivered a thorough and moving eulogy, extolling what a fine parliamentarian Ms. Cox was.
And the British leaders did something we rarely see in our politics. Mr. Cameron on behalf of the Conservatives and Mr. Bercow of the Labour Party issued a joint statement asking the British people to unite and temporarily halt their bitter partisan struggles and the fight for and against Brexit. The Liberal Democratic party also made a similar call.
All this revives our faith in the words of the patriotic song, “There’ll Always Be an England.”